Short Reviews: Weekend (2011)

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Weekend tells the story of Russel (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New), two men who meet in a bar one night and end up spending a weekend together. I’m hesitant to call it a love story only because it seems the characters themselves would baulk at the suggestion that they’re in love after such a short timeframe. Weekend is, however, a very romantic and very intimate film that grounds itself in reality and is all the better for it.

Russel is a decent-looking, adequately-employed and suitably-social (albeit a bit awkward) man who nevertheless seems to be wandering around in a state of semipermanent ennui. He’s immediately drawn to Glen – handsome, confident, vivacious, and what starts as a one-night stand goes a slightly different route the next morning, where you get the sense that both of them feel like they should be making themselves scarce but neither really wants to.

Weekend is a triumph of character. As much as he fits the “nice, quiet guy” bill, Russel has his flaws – he’s presumptuous and stubborn, and a bit of a layabout (his ennui is almost certainly self-inflicted). It’s much more evident in Glen – equal parts charming and cavalier as he is brash and obnoxious. But lest they sound unlikeable, the movie’s success is that they’re not only likeable characters, they’re real and relatable. Much of the growing connection between the two of them comes from both being ever so mildly irritated with the other one, but happy that they pushed through the irritation and got to know them a bit better.

It comes about that Glen is actually set to leave for the US to study at an art school at the end of the weekend. This of course puts a time limit on the budding romance, and causes things to intensify a little between them. But refreshingly, the film doesn’t end with Glen changing his entire plan on a whim, and the stock-standard mad-rush-to-the-train-station-before-the-loved-one-leaves is really just Russel getting a lift with a friend so that he and Glen can have a bit more time together.

And at the film’s end, who can really say if they’re in love or not? Glen and Russel certainly (probably) wouldn’t, but it’s clear there’s a connection that’s been made, a hell of a lot of feeling involved, and both of them would be thinking about the other for a long time. It’s to the film’s credit that it manages this without being overly-sentimental or dramatic, which makes it feel all the more real and potent.

It’s also to the films’ credit that it doesn’t try to do more than tell its story. There is no moralising or speechifying from the characters; neither Glen nor Russel serve as metaphors for LGBT issues at a larger surface – they’re just two guys who meet and have a weekend’s worth of story together, and the film just lets you in on what’s happening. It’s not necessarily a love story, but it’s certainly incredibly romantic.